Filing of accounts and late filing penalties

Companies are automatically fined if accounts are not submitted on time. Accounts should be normally be filed for a private company nine months after the company's accounting reference date. Public companies should file their accounts within six months of the company's accounting reference date.

The period of filing first accounts for a private company is 21 months after the date of incorporation and for a public company 19 months after the date of incorporation.

Late filing penalties

The current filing penalties are as follows:

Length of delay, based on the filing date Private company Public company
Three months or less £100 £500
More than three months up to six months £250 £1,000
More than six months to 12 months £500 £2,000
More than 12 months £1,000 £5,000

From 1 February 2009 the penalties are as follows

Length of delay, based on the filing date Private company Public company
Not more than one month £150 £750
More than one month but not more than three months £375 £1,500
More than three months but not more than six months £750 £3,000
More than six months £1,500 £7,500

These rates double for any company which files late having also filed late in the previous year. In this circumstance that results in a maximum fine of £15,000 for a PLC filing more than six months after the filing deadline.

The Registrar of Companies automatically issues invoices where accounts are filed late - these are sent to the registered office.

Can a filing penalty be appealed against?
You may appeal against a penalty but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional. The Registrar has limited discretion not to collect a penalty. It may be applied when an unforeseen catastrophe strikes a company at a critical time; for instance, a personal tragedy affecting a sole director immediately before a filing deadline or a fire destroying records a few days before time runs out.

The Registrar lists the following reasons that are not considered exceptional:

  • My accounts were delayed or lost in the post
  • My company is dormant
  • My company or its officers have financial difficulties (including bankruptcy)
  • I cannot afford to pay
  • You did receive them on time but they were rejected
  • Another director is responsible for preparing the accounts
  • My accountant was ill
  • I relied on my accountant
  • These are my first accounts
  • I am not familiar with the filing requirements
  • This is a flat management company
  • I was abroad on business or on holiday
  • I am a sole director
  • I did not receive a reminder notice

Quite an interesting list!

In order to ensure your accounts are completed and ready for filing it is important you provide your accounting records when we request them and any additional information we require in order to complete the accounts and, where appropriate, the audit.

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